New findings from members of the Cassini imaging team show that certain prominent features in Saturns narrow and contorted F ring can be understood in terms of a simple gravitational interaction with the small moon Prometheus. The results are published in todays issue of the journal "Nature."
The F ring is notorious for exhibiting unusual structures, like "knots," "kinks," and "clumps" that continue to puzzle astronomers. Cassini images have shown that the gravitational effect of Prometheus appears to produce regular patterns in the ring, including a series of channels or gores in the tenuous ring material interior to the F ring core, and "streamers" of particles that temporarily link the ring to the moon.
Prometheus is only about 100 kilometers (60 miles) wide and orbits just interior to the F ring. The Cassini imaging scientists findings show that Prometheus causes the structure as the moon approaches and recedes from the F ring every 14.7 hours, during its orbit of Saturn.
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